Teaching online - a test run
Hunter's classes are still on hiatus while we figure out how we're going to deliver instruction remotely. I have it easier than most. First, my students all get laptops as being part of the Daedalus program. This doesn't mean they have great internet access or access at all but it does mean they have a device that can run everything we need them to run. I don't yet know if they all have adequate internet access but I'm hoping it's either not an issue or one that we can easily figure out.
Next, software. Again, I'm lucky. Zoom seems to be the best of breed for synchronous stuff and as faculty in the school of education, I have an account. The rest of the CS faculty don't. The rest of Hunter has to use some combination of Blackboard based tools and freely available stuff.
Today, we tested everything out. I had about 10 students volunteer. We did a Zoom meeting and tried all the feature:
- public and private chat
- screen sharing
- breakout rooms
The breakout rooms were the big thing I wanted to check out. They're a little clunky but overall pretty nice. It's a bit kludgey when someone joins the conference after breakout rooms are formed but overall it worked well.
For async stuff we'll mostly stick with the same tools - email, GitHub and GitHub classroom but I think we'll also give Slack another go. My problem with Slack is that it didn't seem to work well within the students day. It may work for a professional in front of their screen most of the day but students are in and out of class and other obligations. They'll miss the real time flow and then have to navigate through a muddy thread stream to catch up.
Now with everyone working from home Slack might be a better fit. We'll see.
Thursday I go live.
I think the lesson I'm planning for my CS1 translates pretty easily to online but might have to work my CS2 plans. In any event we'll see how it goes.
I'm sure the rest of the semester will be challenging for all of us but I also know it's okay if we fumble through and make mistakes. It's not all about the content.
Would love to hear from my fellow teachers how it's working with them. Alfred Thompson has already been blogging about his experiences with going remote so we're getting play by play from a rural private (Catholic) high school. I'll add the NYC public college experience.
If you want to share how it's going for you but don't blog, send it as a long comment or do a guest post.
We'll all be more isolated physically over the next few weeks so let's share more in the digital world.